There is something to be said for people who stick their necks out for romance. Even if it’s just a one night fling (which doesn’t constitute romance), the passion that goes into mating rituals is quite involved.
“It’s Complicated,” therefore, might be an apt way to describe the kitschy romance that evolves in Natalie Krinsky’s debut film, “The Broken Hearts Gallery,” which hits theaters today.
A stunning Geraldine Viswanathan plays the complex emotions and reactions that inhabit the film through Lucy Gulliver.
Lucy is your hip New Yorker who’s landed the perfect job at a prestigious art gallery and a relationship with the handsome, yet devilish, Max (Utkarsh Ambudkar).
The film paints Lucy as a cock-sure and self-involved individual, which seems to stretch Viswanathan’s acting just a bit. Krinsky’s direction brings out the devilish side of the actress, and we can see Lucy lightening up, if not unwinding just a bit.
Not all is as it seems, though, as Lucy trips over her own two feet, facing heartbreak and a jobless situation in the same fell swoop. It isn’t vital to know how or why she ends up that way, but to realize how Lucy adapts and overcomes her challenges, as the film explores themes of hoarding (though we don’t use that word), compassion, and, ultimately, romance.
Then she meets Nick (Dacre Montgomery) in a case of mistaken identity. The obvious signs are present, but Krinsky has the foresight to allow their relationship and Lucy’s emotional challenge to unfold naturally from when they first meet.
Lucy’s biggest challenge is how she holds on to pieces of her past. There is a symbolic reveal toward the end of the second act, in a very touching way. Getting to that point, though, is where Krinsky, Viswanathan, and Montgomery push through the formula to create something unique, as Lucy finds a new outlet in more ways than one.
Krinsky’s direction is assured even as the story struggles through its formula. I had feelings of déjà vu, thinking back to the 1995 Disney movie, “Man of the House.” Before you take me to task on film Twitter, the two movies aren’t as far apart as you might think. Each film focuses on similar themes to connect disparate people, only in “The Broken Hearts Gallery,” establishing relationships and finding a connection that doesn’t feel forced.
There’s an exciting look at reality versus fantasy, as Lucy’s happy-go-lucky attitude, drenched in bohemia, exudes a confidence that “everything will be alright,” even as she’s trying to hide her insecurities. I want to think that Krinsky was thinking about the night at the opera in “Pretty Woman,” where fantasy meets reality meets the story; Lucy is finally able to release the underpinned emotional baggage.
If there’s a criticism to be leveled is that even after the reveal at the end of the second act, Lucy’s and Nick’s easy-going natures deflate the effect of the reveal. There is strength and merit to Lucy’s cause, and Krinsky, fortunately, doesn’t let us off so quickly.
The film gets credit for making great use of Bernadette Peters, Molly Gordon, Phillipa Soo, Suki Waterhouse, and famed chef Roy Choi as supporting characters; they each surround Lucy in her time of need and her time of release.
Perhaps Johnny Lee wasn’t so wrong. “Lookin’ For Love in all the wrong places” isn’t such a bad thing. If anything, it reinforces the patient, perhaps penitent nature with which “The Broken Hearts Gallery” finds it’s groove.
- The Broken Hearts Gallery